Monday, February 8, 2021

Boshin War - Naval Wargaming

I recently dove into wargaming the naval aspect of the Boshin War.  Boshin War?

This war took place in Japan 1868-69.  The war was fought between supporters of the Imperial Court and supporters of the Shogunate.  The Imperial Court won the war, unifying Japan under the Imperial Court.  The Emperor moved from Kyoto to Edo.  Edo was renamed to Tokyo.  This war was in the middle of Japan's modernization.

Spithead Miniatures let it be known in 2020 that they would be producing ships for this period and noted that William Warner had produced a book on the subject.  I am definitely interested in the post Age of Sail to pre-dreadnought period.  I have ran American Civil War, Russo-Japanese, Sino-Japanese games and the Battle of Riachuelo in South America.  No problem signing me up for Boshin War.

Here are some Boshin War hobby resources:

Warships of the Late Tokugawa Conflicts: Japan (1853-1870) by William Eugene Warner

Knowing that I would be buying miniatures for the war, I needed to read up on the conflict.  This book is published by Amazon and printed to order.  The book was ordered, printed and arrived in three days...impressive.  There are 213 pages full of great background history on the naval aspects of the war with lots of maps and photos.  All major warships are covered with sketches and profiles.  Information about the weapons and flags are provided as well.

The book is not perfect.  Almost every page has grammatic, punctuation, or spelling errors.  An example of how bad it is, there are two full paragraphs that are repeated in one chapter.  The volume of errors in the book is pretty bad.  I have encountered this before with other authors who choose not to use an editor.  I wish all self published authors used editors.  I hope the facts in the book are correct as I really don't have another source.

Even with all the errors, I recommend this book.  The content is perfect for those interested in wargaming the naval aspect of the war.

My overview of the book.

Spithead Miniatures - Boshin War miniatures

Spithead just manufactured the 1:1200 miniatures for the conflict.  The hulls are resin and the masts are pewter.  There are seven Shogunate and seven Imperial ships available.  A flag sheet is provided.

The post about the miniatures is available on Facebook: Facebook Link

Ironclad 2: Boshin War game

This is a PC game available on Steam.  The game allows you to play either side with the objective to capture key harbours.  At the end of the game based on what key harbours, points are totaled and then it is determined if you won the war.  You spend money on infantry and warships to try to blockade, engage warships, siege or assault a harbour.  The game is mainly designed as a warship simulation.  The campaign portion of the game is just to give context and variability to naval battles.

The ship models look really good, but are not completely accurate to the real ship.  The look the period, but based on what I've seen from Warner's book and the Spithead miniatures, they need rework.  The naval battles will run for a long time, but are probably accurate due to the small number of guns on each ship.  The developer initially came out with the original Ironclads game c.2008.  The Boshin War game came out in 2017.  They have released many Ironclad games based on wars in the period.  I have played the original game and this one.

The game lacks tutorials and you should read the manual before playing.  I stumbled through the game and the manual.  I finally figured it out and it played okay.  The highlight of the game is looking at the ship models in battle.  It is unfortunate there are no islands or coastline in the battles, as historically this was almost always present, as well as coastal guns.  There are a few bugs while playing the game, but nothing causing the game to crash.  The naval battles are long and not very exciting, but I think it gives a good impression on what the battles were like.

For a $10 game, I think it is worth it for those that want to try out naval battles in the Boshin War.

The Boshin War: Civil War in Japan, 1868-69 by David Manley

This is a simple campaign system for generating naval battles using miniatures.  Ship data is provided for ships in the campaign.  David is one of the foremost naval wargame rules writers in the hobby, and supports all naval wargaming eras and has not overlooked the Boshin War.  I suspect he generated this system for his own interest and shared it with the rest of us in the hobby.  This is much appreciated as it will give good tabletop game variation.  There are a total of 13 pages of rules which makes it a easy campaign system to play out.  Since there are not many ships on either side in this war, it makes sense to keep the campaign system simple.

I look forward to using this system.  It is available from Wargame Vault.